For the past 4 years, I have considered myself extraordinarily fortunate to have been involved as an organizer/facilitator of Triangle Startup Weekend and regional champion with Startup America, helping to launch Startup NC.
These are all completely voluntary and unpaid roles, but I’ve always worked on the premise that the Triangle’s involvement in these programs is mandatory — in the sense that, we’d be missing out, leaving a lot on the table and it’d be just plain silly not to participate, engage and play a role as the leader that we are as a region.
Internationally, Startup Weekend has impacted over 100,000 entrepreneurs in the 4 years since it became a nonprofit. In about two short years, Startup America has launched local regions in 32 states. The two organizations have combined to form UP Global, an umbrella organization that will serve as a platform for entrepreneurial programs spanning the entire spectrum.
Guiding and advising the new UP Global organization is a who’s who of entrepreneurship. Up Global’s board members and advisors include Steve Case, Steve Blank, Brad Feld, Reid Hoffman, Michael Dell, Magic Johnson, and Tory Burch. Up Global will be supported in part by The Kauffman Foundation, the Case Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs, Microsoft and The Coca-Cola Company.
The partnership to form UP Global will take the view that the existing programs (Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, NEXT, Corporate Connections) are all core programs that have been validated and tested in local communities, but there are others that can be tested and grow with the same action-based learning approach. The key is that they have to start from the ground up, in local communities.
Personally, I’d love for the Triangle to utilize its unique ecosystem and play a leadership role in the inception and development of these new programs. We’re the perfect test bed for new entrepreneurial programs.
Where have we been and where are we going?
By the end of 2013, we’ll have hosted at least eight Triangle Startup Weekends since the very first one in Carrboro. John Austin and I will be coordinating and instructing the Triangle’s first NEXT program (a pre-accelerator for startups guided by Steve Blank’s curriculum).
We’re early in our involvement with the Corporate Connections program, but are on track to have the Triangle’s biggest companies participate in the platform and launch a campaign to get startups on the platform. In 2014, we’d like to have more than 10 Triangle Startup Weekends and we think we’ve validated a model to make that happen, but we’ll need a lot of help from local entrepreneurs.
What should Triangle entrepreneurs do?
As UP takes more shape in the coming weeks, this is the perfect time to raise your hand and get involved. There’s a lot we want to do and we’ll need a lot of help.